Press Release – New Zealand Government
Families in the Capital and Coast, Hutt Valley, Hawkes Bay, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Northland, Tairawhiti and Waikato district health board areas with children at risk of rheumatic fever will be fast-tracked to the top of the waiting list for state housing from 1 March, Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“There is a strong link between housing conditions, particularly overcrowding, and rheumatic fever. We changed the Social Allocation System in August last year to fast-track families in Auckland, and Cabinet agreed on Monday to extend this to apply to these additional eight areas,” Dr Smith says.
“New Zealand’s rate of acute rheumatic fever is 14 times the OECD average and the rate is 25 to 44 times greater for Māori and Pacific children. The Government announced an additional $21.3 million to fight rheumatic fever in Budget 2013, bringing our total commitment to over $45 million. This is part of the Government’s agreement with the Māori Party to reduce the incidence of the disease from 4.2 to 1.4 cases per 100,000 people by 2017.
“Families with urgent or serious housing needs will be prioritised if they have one or more children who have been hospitalised for lower respiratory tract infections in their current housing over the past two years, and their household suffers from overcrowding. The criteria has been extended to include families where people are still receiving treatment for rheumatic fever.
“It was intended to extend this prioritisation of state housing beyond Auckland after a full year. We are proceeding more quickly because it is working well and we want to move faster on tackling rheumatic fever.
“This change in criteria for state housing is just part of what Housing New Zealand is doing to support healthier families. We are adding 3000 bedrooms onto 2000 state houses from Project 324&5 to reduce overcrowding. We are introducing reviewable tenancies to ensure state houses are prioritised for those with the greatest need. We have also insulated all houses that can be and are developing a housing Warrant of Fitness for state homes.
“Improving the quality of our state housing and ensuring they are housing those in the most need is an important part of the Government’s social policy agenda.”